You did it! You made it through pregnancy, contractions, labour and childbirth! A moment to celebrate as you are holding your little bundle of joy. Already forgetting the pain you were in just seconds or minutes ago.
But cheering the moment with your newborn can have a big dark cloud above you, especially weeks later. All of the sudden you may feel like all you do is care for your baby. The person you once were suddenly ceased to exist and even though you love your baby more than anything in the world, you may not able to shake the feeling that your baby is the reason for not feeling like yourself anymore.
Many mother’s feel this way. For a little while, even I did when my precious baby girl was born and all I did was be with her. But that is the reason for writing this blog!
Something we all seem to forget in this time is one of the most important things: SELF CARE.
But before I dive into self care and what you can do about it there is one thing that is so very important to mention! It is the fact that you changed as a person and indeed are not the same as you were before birthing your baby. Because with birthing your baby also a mother was born, a new you.
You now are a mother! Let that sit for a moment.
It is very important to accept the fact that as much as you want to be the same person – you are not. And that is alright!
So let’s return to what on earth I was talking about? How can you practise self care with a newborn attached to you 24/7?! Simple. Baby steps (ironic isn’t it?!).
When I wrote my blog about maternal mental health, I did a lot of research on how we can practise self care. There are many points that repeat themselves.
There are few things that you could do to improve your overall mental health, like:
- Limit stress
- Receiving the proper balance of nutrition
- Natural remedies
- Therapeutic practices
- Encourage Selfcare
One important part to remember about self-care is that it won’t look the same for every person. So also try to do some things that you enjoyed doing before your pregnancy and childbirth that can help you feel more like yourself.
Here are some of my self care tips:
This first point is SUPER important. Your body and your baby went through a lot of changes in a short period of time plus you gave birth! Please take some time, rest, sleep, do nothing and let yourself recover. Take this time and re-watch the entire season of Grey’s Anatomy or other favourite shows and simply do nothing but hang out with your brand new baby. Don’t worry about laundry or dishes and whatever else in the household. This time is precious.
- Try changing your daily routine.
Most people expect to fall back into their normal routines before they became parents, but that is not the reality. Now that you are a mother try to establish new routines that work for your family with your newborn included.
- Practice gratitude and notice positivity.
Maybe try a gratitude journal (write in it what you are thankful for and why) or try a jar in which you write on post-its. Draw a post-it when you need a pick-me-up.
- Embrace your emotions.
Do you need to cry? Let it out!!! Did you know that tears of emotional release are found to be higher in protein than tears caused by cutting onions, for example. Emotional tears include endorphins, which help to relieve pain.
- Connect with other mom’s.
Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with other mom’s and sharing your successes and struggles. Try out a Mommy&Me group or check out the library program, most of them even provide you with amazing information to help you through this journey.
*Reminder: Please don’t compare! I can not say it enough, comparing can lead to unhappiness! Please don’t compare your parenting or child development to someone else’s. Your family does what works best for you and every individual grows at its own speed. Share instead.*
- Connect with family and friends.
As important as it is to connect with other moms, it is important to stay connecting with your village, your friends and family that can make you feel a lot more like yourself. Pack up your baby, get out of the house and enjoy some time around your loved ones. Or if you don’t want to leave your house, invite them and have them bring over some food in exchange of baby cuddles.
*You have some friends that are not fond of babies or hate you talking about your baby all the time? Maybe it is time to cut some ties and remove toxic relationships from your life.*
- Buy postpartum clothes/ buy yourself something.
A lot of times we think about the clothes we will need for our pregnant bodies, but neglect the thought of our bodies after we birthed our babies. We think that we will fit our pre-pregnancy clothing hours after birth but this is actually not true (maybe for some women but not for most). So buy yourself some new clothes that fit and that make you feel good!
- Pamper yourself.
Make yourself feel beautiful with a new haircut, a manicure, a pedicure or even a massage. Short on money? Do it yourself at home with facials. You can even do belly binding (it supports your body in healing and makes you feel like being hugged.) Celebrate Motherhood in your own way!
- Limit Visits.
Too many visitor can be overwhelming for you and baby, especially if you are still getting used to being a parent. Limit visits, your friends and family will understand.
- Accept help.
Friends and family often want to help out or even just want to snuggle up with the baby. Let them! Take the chance to jump into the shower or take the load off your shoulders with those dishes in the sink. You don’t have to be in this alone and they want to help.
- Hire a Doula.
Not wanting to sell myself, but a Doula can help you in many ways! She can arrange for you to have an undisturbed long shower/bath or even let you have that undisturbed coffee/tea that is still hot. She can be your companion and listen to you, help you process your birth experience. She offers great resources for you, so can stay on top of your own health and some even offer over night support if you need some good night rest.
- Go on a “Phone Strike”.
I am not kidding, leave that phone of yours in a different room and focus on your little newborn. Don’t get distracted or sucked into social media (I am absolutely guilty of getting sucked in sometimes…) just take a step away from it and live in the now-moment.
- Try art therapy.
Art Therapy such as drawing, painting, or taking photos has shown to help express and work through feelings (and guess what? You now have a adorable model!). A systematic review has shown that art therapy helps to reduce anxiety and percentages of other postpartum mood disorders. Lot’s of mothers try things from Pinterest, maybe its time to join the cult.
- Buy yourself a plant/flowers.
Or even better, get your spouse to surprise you with some. Plants in your home or other environments ( such as your work place) can increase your overall health and decrease diseases, as well as enhance your mood and reduce stress and anxiety. Now thats an awesome reason to get plenty plants/flowers in your house!
- Herbs in tea or baths.
Herbal teas and herbal baths are usually safe for pregnancy, labour, and the postpartum period. Herbs if used correctly can help you relax. Have a bath just by yourself or a cup of tea! I suggest you to see a Herbalist to provide help with which herbs to use.
- Try Meditation
Practicing meditation promotes a sense of well-being, and reduces emotional concern. It can be done for 5-10 minutes daily to help reduce fear and anxiety!
- Go for a walk
Take a walk everyday to stay active but give your body enough time to heal. After all it has been stretched, organs have been squished and you might’ve even torn. If you had a belly birth you would’ve even been cut through layers of skin and muscles.
So ensure you take the time to recover, start slow and steady. Going for walks gives you several things – fresh air, exercise and some well deserved vitamin d which are good for you and baby.
- Balance your nutrients
If you balance your nutrients they can decrease stress and anxiety for you, best is to seek out a Nutritionalist to help you determine what’s best for you and your body. But spoil yourself with good foods that you love!
- Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and oils, fibre rich foods
- High-Protein and complex carbohydrates to maintain stable blood sugar, as well as B–Vitamins
- Oatmeal, yogurt, almonds, raisins, sunflower seeds.
But lastly, I want all you wonderful mothers to remember one important thing.
You are now mothers.
Your routines and everything changed.
Try to accept that change, live and flourish in it!
Try not to dwell on the “old you” or how things used to be. Talk about it and let it go. Process it in your own way.